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AIBU - need help to learn how to do referencing asap and can't find it.

(47 Posts)
wantmorenow Wed 10-Jun-20 13:09:37

Have started online course and have weekly formative assignments which should be referenced and include citations etc. I don't know how to organise this and use word or software to help. I have googled and am overwhelmed with information. I have asked for help from course leaders but without success. First week I was literally counting the alphabet on my fingers and cut and pasting. This can't be right.

I know what needs to be included just not how to do it efficiently. Word, mendeley, ... I am old school. these are just google search results. My old essays were done by hand, PCs hadn't been invented lol. Not quite true but very close.

Please can any more knowledgeable people out there help? I'm wasting so much time that I don't have and the pace of work is huge. I don't have time to reinvent the wheel. A lot of sources will be used more than once - a list per essay, a central list to import. Sorry I am so stressed and out of depth.


OP’s posts: |
zscaler Wed 10-Jun-20 13:12:08

There are different style guides for how citations should be formatted. Does your course information specify which should be used?

dobbyssoc Wed 10-Jun-20 13:12:20

What method are they asking you to use?

AwkwardPaws27 Wed 10-Jun-20 13:12:59

Have you checked with your college/university library? They usually offer guidance, and sometimes have training sessions and access to software.

SomewhereInbetween1 Wed 10-Jun-20 13:14:05

Once you know which style they would like you to use, there are lots of online sites that can generate citations and references for you of you're struggling, such as

PipGirl404 Wed 10-Jun-20 13:14:13

We only ever used Vancouver referencing so I learned it off by heart but I know a lot of people in my class use a software called 'citethisforme' or something? Google it, might be handy to get you used to the format!

AwkwardPaws27 Wed 10-Jun-20 13:15:43

This is an ok free tool:

I used it for my BSc.

Waffles80 Wed 10-Jun-20 13:17:03

I would reiterate what others have said, and find out what method you need to use.

Different institutions require different forms of referencing! Once you know what the form is it is really easy to sort out, I promise.

My dad did a PhD in his 60s having done his Masters in the days of hand writing essays. I had to type up a lot of it for him, but he managed to sort out the referencing himself once I had showed him.

I assume you are using word to write up your assessment? If so then you can add footnotes by adding a footer to each page, you can google how to do this.

dreamingbohemian Wed 10-Jun-20 13:18:17

OP I'm happy to walk you through it (I'm a lecturer)

If you are 'old school' then I suggest not messing about with the various software programmes (people insist you need them but lots of academics don't use them)

The first step is to find out what citation format your course want you to use. Have any of your lecturers told you this? If not, you should have a student handbook of some kind. This should have a section on Referencing and that will tell you which format they want. For example, Harvard, Chicago, MLA.

Once you know this, I can explain in more detail what to do.

ChilliCheese123 Wed 10-Jun-20 13:19:23

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 10-Jun-20 13:23:18

As others have said you need to know the type of referencing the lecturers need to answer that question.
How you actually handle it is up to you. I was old school hand written and a small amount of word processing ( not computer). Then I did a post grad. I kept my quotes in notebooks under topics with their reference, so I referred to my notebooks when typing and then had separate documents with the references typed up that I could cut and paste at the end of the document.
My PG was a business management so I had sections on SWOT analysis, vision statements, mission statements, staff motivation etc.

Flyingarcher Wed 10-Jun-20 13:23:59

If it is Harvard referencing then in the text you would say some think Harvard referencing is the best (Smith 2007, P34). Then in the references section give names, title, date of published, publisher, place of publication.

If it is an internet source you need to give the date accessed.

HappyLoves Wed 10-Jun-20 13:26:34

What reference style do you need to use? If you can choose I recommend Harvard as it is straight forward but please check your course handbook or your lecturer first as some courses are strict with the referencing style they use.

As others have mentioned, citethisforme is quite good.

I used to find most of my papers on Google Scholar ( and underneath they have a quotation mark (") which if you click gives you the citation for different styles (MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard and Vancouver).

You don't need to use a particular software unless you need to do numbered citations in which case I would recommend EndNote.

Climbingpixie Wed 10-Jun-20 13:50:58

It might feel like unnecessary stress right now but learning to use referencing software will save you so much work and effort in the future. Mendeley and Zotero are free and easy to use and work very similarly (as does Endnote).

I would recommend signing up for and downloading Mendeley. Once you have it you need to add your references to it which is simple to do through Google Scholar. Just search for your article/book and click on the quotation marks underneath it - it will produce a Cite pop up box. I think Mendeley works on the RefMan format so just click the link at the bottom of the pop up that says RefMan. It'll download the citation and if you try to open it (I do this by clicking the download arrow on my toolbar) it'll add it into your Mendeley Library. You can set it up later to download pdfs of articles and things like that but for now you just need the references.

To add them to your work you can download a plugin for Word - Once you have this you can add references into your work through the referencing tab. You can choose what reference style and then click a button to add the bibiography at the end.

Hope this is helpful. I struggled through a few essays when I started my MSc without using Mendeley because I was intimidated and it sounded complicated but learning to use it was probably the best use of 30 mins of my time during the whole degree!

mrsnoodle55 Wed 10-Jun-20 14:06:16

I’m hopeless at IT and I use Neils toolbox (just google neilstoolbox). All you do it type in the text and details of the reference and it spits it out in the correct format. Worth a try.

Springisintheair2 Wed 10-Jun-20 14:36:03

What citation system are you using? Oscola is very different to Harvard for example. To compile the sources into a bibliography in alphabetical order, copy and paste all the sources according to primary/secondary/journals etc. And highlight, then use the little button at the top on word with an 'AZ' and a down arrow and that will put your sources in alphabetical order

rosiejaune Wed 10-Jun-20 14:42:04

I use the MyBib website; you just choose the referencing style, and it adds a button to your browser so you can reference any journal article you're on at the time.

Sometimes you need to go and correct a few thing (capitalisation, or author etc) as not all journal website have the info in the right format for it, but it's far easier than doing it manually.

LouiseTrees Wed 10-Jun-20 14:49:08

I always just did footnotes at the bottom of a word document and then at the end of the document and I only left uni 10 years ago. My how times have changed with all this software. There’s no need. I recommend you take the past poster who said she would teach you above on her offer. If the course don’t tell you what do the academic articles read in your course use might be a way to determine. You could maybe post a screenshot of one of those and we can tell you.

Soberfutures Wed 10-Jun-20 14:53:39

If you are struggling to put them in alphabetical order on word there is a button to do this for you. Highlight all the things you want to be in the list and click the button it has an arrow and letters next to it. Will see if I can attach a picture of it

Soberfutures Wed 10-Jun-20 15:02:13

Also whatever online resource or library you use should alongside the article have a button to create a reference for your bibliography. Just cut and paste this into word for everything you read. And then use the ⬇️ buttons to arrange it alphabetically. Then at the end delete any reference you didn't end up using or citing. I found doing it this was helped

SarahAndQuack Wed 10-Jun-20 15:05:21

YY, what @dreamingbohemian said. I'm an academic and I always do mine by hand. TBH, I think often, checking the programme hasn't made any silly errors is almost as time-consuming as just doing it yourself!

The issue is that referencing takes time (however you do it), and you need to learn to leave yourself long enough.

Siablue Wed 10-Jun-20 15:06:13

Find out which referencing style is required if you are doing law it will be OSCOLA if you are doing psychology it will be APA. Harvard is very commonly used as well.

If you are at university they will have a guide on the website. The book cite them right is really good too.

Climbingpixie Wed 10-Jun-20 15:11:38


I always just did footnotes at the bottom of a word document and then at the end of the document and I only left uni 10 years ago. My how times have changed with all this software. There’s no need. I recommend you take the past poster who said she would teach you above on her offer. If the course don’t tell you what do the academic articles read in your course use might be a way to determine. You could maybe post a screenshot of one of those and we can tell you.

The OP doesn't 'need' to use software but it will save them time and make their life so much easier if they do. Why wouldn't you spend 30 minutes to learn a skill that will be used on every piece of academic work you do? It also gives flexibility if you need to change referencing styles, something that you really appreciate the benefit of when you discover half an hour before your deadline that you've used Harvard when you should've used endnotes.

It's also worth noting that referencing software is a really great way of keeping track of your articles and papers generally. I would be lost without my tagged, categorised and annotated literature library!

wantmorenow Wed 10-Jun-20 15:17:47

Wow. Thanks for all of these replies. Just had a stressful half hour booking a covid test for DP. Actually was straight forward. Surprisingly.

Need to use APA referencing. The reading list is in file link called TALIS. Mendeley link pops up in one note and word I think (one note is another app I'm trying to master too) however the drag and drop into mendeley doesn't work for me and says I don't have access to the core text via library. Core text is actually available though a link to "Koretext". I'm in this course for 2 years so happy and keen to learn the right way from the off.

Lecturer unable to help, teaching assistants directed me to lecturer. Library staff contact details are unknown to me and I'm distance learning.

Appreciate the help. Eager to learn all this.

OP’s posts: |
LellyMcKelly Wed 10-Jun-20 15:21:15

Your university library website will have a document on this either on their front page or in a section called Guides. That will give you the correct house style for your uni.

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